China will lower import tariffs and continue to broaden market access, President Xi Jinping pledged on Monday, raising his estimate for the country's imports in the coming years at the opening of a symbolic week-long trade expo in Shanghai.
"In a world of deepening economic globalisation, practices of the law of the jungle and victor takes all only represent a dead end", Xi said Monday in a much-anticipated speech at the China International Import Expo.
Trump, who has in recent days expressed optimism about cutting a deal with China, touted his approach toward the country during a campaign rally in Tennessee shortly before Xi's speech.
Speaking in Singapore on Tuesday, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, who is close to Xi, reiterated China's readiness to hold discussions and work with the United States to resolve trade disputes as the world's two largest economies stand to lose from confrontation. Xi denounced the "law of the jungle" and "beggar-thy-neighbor" trade policies, the publication reported.
Presidents and prime ministers from almost 20 countries are attending the trade fair, although no leaders from Western countries are attending. They say regulators are trying to squeeze foreign competitors out of promising fields such as information security.
"All countries should make efforts to improve their business environment and fix their own problems", Xi said. But he said companies need to see enforcement "before we know if this commitment is real".
Twelve countries were named "guests of honour" at the trade fair, including the UK, Russia, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, and Vietnam. Of that total, China imported about $500 billion of goods from the United States. The U.S. has recently ramped up its criticism of theft of American companies' intellectual property rights by Chinese companies and state entities and the U.S. Justice Department last week indicted state-owned chipmaker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co.
"Many may be attending because they think it is politically smart", said Zarit.
China remains one of the world's most protectionist economies.
Xi made no mention of Beijing's fight with Mr. Trump over Chinese plans for state-led development of technology industries.
Ministries, local governments and central enterprises across the country have formed about 40 trading groups, together with hundreds of thousands of buyers.
The EU, which shares U.S. concerns over China's trade practices if not Trump's tariff strategy to address them, on Thursday called for China to take concrete steps to further open its market to foreign firms and provide a level playing field, adding that it would not sign up to any political statement at the forum.
The US has hit about half of Chinese imports into the US with tariffs.
The event, which has a United Kingdom delegation led by the trade secretary Liam Fox, is aimed at bolstering access to China for foreign firms but has been overshadowed by the trade spat with Donald Trump. Nearly half of companies surveyed in June by the European Chamber of Commerce in China said they missed out on business opportunities due to regulatory barriers or market access restrictions, and they expected obstacles to increase during the next five years.
"Overall, favorable conditions are in place for the long-term, healthy and steady growth of the Chinese economy", Xi said.
"A storm can overturn a small pond, but not a sea", he said. "We've taken the toughest-ever action to crack down on China's abusive trade practices. Facing the future, China will always be here". China's independently developed C919 large passenger aircraft and a model of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge that opened recently also interested the visitors.
Trump has railed against China over intellectual property theft, entry barriers to USA business and a gaping trade deficit, which US data showed reached a record $40.2 billion in September.
Europe, Japan and other trading partners have criticized Mr. Trump's tactics but echo US complaints. The EU called last week for Xi to present concrete steps to opening its market. DIT's presence at the show will help create even more exciting opportunities for British companies.